blend of western and indigenous elements; originating in theWest with Godwin, Stimer, and Proudhon, it subsequentlyfiltered through the prisms of Bakuninism, Kropotkinism, andnative
acquiring a distinctive Russian hue.
character of Russian anarchism, moreover, was shaped by therepressive political environment into which it
Nicholas II, by thwarting all efforts by enlightened members of Russian society to reform the autocracy and alleviatesocial and economic distress, drove
opponents to seek redress in a frenzy of terrorism and violence.Anarchism in Russia flourished and waned with the fortunesof the revolutionary movement as a whole. When rebellionerupted in 1905, the anarchists jubilantly hailed it as the spontaneous mass upheaval forecast by Bakunin a generation before,and they threw themselves into
fray with bombs and pistolsin hand. However, failing to build up a coherent organization orto penetrate the expanding
movement on any significantscale, they remained a loose collection of obstreperous littlegroups whose activities
a relatively minor impact on thecourse of the uprising.
episodic character of the opening section of this book
at least, a reflection of the disarraywithin the anarchist movement during its formative years. Afterthe 1905 revolt was suppressed,the movement fell dormant untilthe First World
set the stage for a new uprising. Then, in1917, the sudden collapse of the monarchy and the breakdownof political and economic authority which followed convincedthe anarchists
indeed arrived, and theyapplied themselves to the task of sweeping away what remainedof the state and transferring the land and factories to the common people.
Russian anarchists have long been ignored by those whoregard all history through the eyes of the victors. Political success, however, is by no means the sole measure of the worth of amovement; the belief
triumphant causes alone should interest the historian leads, as James Joll recently observed, to theneglect of much in the past
is valuable and curious, andnarrows our view of the
one is to appreciate thetrue range and complexity of the Revolution of 1917 and the
followed in its wake,
role played by the anarchistsmust be taken into account. In the turmoil of insurrection andcivil war, the anarchists attempted to carry out their program of"direct action"
control of production, the creation offree rural and urban communes, partisan warfare against theenemies of a libertarian society.
acted as the gadfly of totalrebellion, brooking no compromise with the annihilation of government and private property, refusing to accept anything
Golden Age of
liberty and equality. In the end, however,a new despotism arose upon the ruins of
old, and the anarchist movement was stamped out.
few who survived, thoughthey suffered the melancholy of defeat, nevertheless clung to thebelief
ultimately their vision of a stateless utopia wouldtriumph. "Bolshevism is of the past," Alexander Berkman couldwrite in 1925, when his Russian comrades were in prison orexile.
future belongs to man and his liberty."!
The "Anti-Climax": The Concluding Chapter
My Russian Diary "The Bolshevik
(Berlin, 1925), p. 29.